The Cessna 172 pilot did not receive a weather briefing before beginning the cross-country flight.
After takeoff, he requested from air traffic control to fly below 500′ above ground level along the ocean shoreline. The controller approved the request but advised of heavy precipitation — a thunderstorm — at the airplane’s 12-o’clock position and four miles ahead.
The controller further advised that the pilot should turn left and fly offshore three miles to avoid the thunderstorm.
Although the pilot acknowledged the instructions, a review of radar and GPS data for the flight revealed that he continued on course.
About three minutes later, he reported that he was reversing direction, and no further communications were received from the pilot.
Review of the airplane’s GPS track overlaid on weather radar plots revealed that the airplane flew into an area of extreme intensity precipitation and then entered a rapid descent and hit the ocean near Hollywood, Florida, killing both people on board the 172.
Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions.
It is likely that the pilot lost control of the airplane when it encountered strong downdrafts and heavy rain associated with the thunderstorm.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight and in-flight weather planning, which resulted in continued flight into a thunderstorm and a subsequent loss of airplane control.
NTSB Identification: ERA16FA309
This September 2016 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.